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A Complete Guide to Picking Stock Images For Commercial Use


I’m sure you’re aware of the fact that use of images on the internet is forever on the rise. Everyday countless pictures (and video clips) are added through social networks, blogs, articles and new content on all types of websites. Just for reference, true to the end of 2016 over 60 million new images are  posted on Instagram alone  every single day!

Is Making Use of Images Truly So Important?

It’s All About the Images [infographic by MDG Advertising]
by MDG Advertising

1. An image that’s relevant to an article’s content will, on average, add exposure to the article by a staggering 94%. This is especially true with articles that have to do with politics, news and sports.
2. Adding an image or a video clip to a PR article will raise exposure to it by some 54%.
3.  With regards to online stores, 67% of visitors testify that the quality of a product’s image has a great impact on choice between products and on whether they end up making a purchase or not. In fact, the quality of a product’s image is more important to potential customers than detailed information in text form, testimonials or rating.
4. On Facebook posts with images get 37% more post engagements than text only ones (0.37% post engagement average for posts with images in comparison to only 0.27% with text only posts, this comes to a 37% difference).

So, Images are Important, What are Your Options?

1. Using photographs you took yourself or were taken for you

We all own digital cameras, at least the ones fitted on our phones. We can take pictures and use them on the net or hire a professional photographer to take pictures for us.

2. Use of Images Subject to Permission From Copy Right Owners

If you come across an image you’d like to use on your site you can contact those who own the copy rights to it and get their permission to use it. They may ask that you pay them for using the image or at least demand that you post an “image credit” (stating to whom the image belongs) directly under the image itself (just as we’ve done with the infographic above).

3. Royalty Free Stock Image Sites

There are dozens of sites offering free downloading of images, photographs, illustrations and vectors which can be used by anyone. Royalty free means that those who owned the copy rights have agreed to let anyone use the image free of charge, they may still ask that you post an image credit. It is essential that you adhere to the terms and conditions of a particular site, make sure to give credit when use images is subject to you doing so. Free Stock Photo Sites:

123RF – This site offers some 40,000 royalty free stock images. There are also images you need to pay for, all in all there are over 60 million photographs, vectors and video clips to choose from.

Pixabay – This site holds over 700,000 photographs, vectors and illustrations. The images may be used privately or commercially according to Creative Commons CCO terms.

Dreamstime – Another free stock images site (also available are images you must pay for). You may choose to upload images you hold copy rights to and maybe earn some money from royalties paid by those who wish to use them.

Pexels – Yet another useful site with plenty of free stock images for private or commercial use.

Here is another list that you might find useful – The 27+ Best Free Stock Photo Sites in 2020!

Stock Images You Must Pay To Use – Buying Images

DepositPhotos – One of my favorite stock image sites offering over 40 million photographs and vectors to be bought for relatively low prices.

Shutterstock – One of the biggest, most well known of all stock image sites. This site holds over 93 million image files. Shutterstock prices are relatively high but many digital marketers and graphic designers still prefer it thanks to the large variety of high quality images.

Freepik – This site offers unlimited image downloads for 10$ only. The selection is not huge yet, but it is a great option to start with.

What You Should Refrain From

Never search for images on Google (Google images) and download pictures you find as if they are royalty free. Many are wrong in thinking that if a picture comes up in a Google search it must be one that can be used freely, this is not the case! Chances are that a picture you find on Google it is copyright protected, if you use it illegally you can be easily tracked down by its digital signature.

A Neat Trick – Here’s How to Track Down Anyone Using an Image You Own (or any other image)

Using chrome browser right click on the image in question, then click “search Google for this image”, the search results you  get are sites on which this image is used.

Highly dedicated entrepreneur, co-founder of Poptin and Ecpm Digital Marketing. Nine years of experience in the digital marketing field and internet project management. Graduated with an Economics degree from Tel Aviv University. A big fan of A/B testing, SEO and PPC campaigns' optimization, CRO, growth hacking and numbers. Always loves testing new advertising strategies and tools, and analyzing the latest start-up companies.